Dean Devlin directs this thriller with decided straight-to-video vibes. But in this case, that’s a good thing

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A trash-schlock-horror-thriller with just enough trash-schlock thrills to work, “Bad Samaritan” knows its role and plays it well.

Robert Sheehan is Sean, the bad Samaritan of the title. He’s an amateur photographer who uses his job as a valet at a Portland, Oregon, restaurant to rob people’s homes while they’re eating dinner. Not the most upstanding of dudes.

But bad meets worse one night when he’s creeping through the house of Cale (David Tennant), a Maserati-driving jerkwad who’s rude to Sean when he hands him his keys. While stealing passwords from Cale’s computer, Sean discovers a girl, bound and gagged, in Cale’s home office, along with a room of serial killer tools to rival “Dexter.” Sean has to save her, but must figure out a way to do so without outing himself as a criminal.

“Bad Samaritan” isn’t a highly intelligent exercise, but it delivers the goods at a base level. Director Dean Devlin knows about delivering the goods in a straightforward manner; he’s the writer and producing partner of Roland Emmerich, and together they created blockbusters such as “Stargate,” “Independence Day” and 1998’s “Godzilla.”

“Bad Samaritan” is small scale, especially when compared to those previous popcorn smashes, but it’s efficient. Tennant is effectively slimy as the psycho who gets caught up in a cat-and-mouse game with Sean, cyberhacking his life, as well as those of his loved ones. He’s like if one of the members of the cast of “Friends” came unglued.

“Bad Samaritan” isn’t trying to be steak, it’s a burger and fries at a greasy diner. But sometimes that’s what you crave, and “Bad Samaritan” hits the spot.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘Bad Samaritan’

GRADE: B-

Rated R for violence, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity

Running time: 110 minutes

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